TOURISM leaders today unveiled the £3 million programme of “Homecoming” events they believe will help create the industry’s biggest ever year in 2014.
A star-studded concert to herald the Ryder Cup, the staging of the world sheepdog trials in Scotland for the first time, a clans golf tournament at Gleneagles and an orienteering contest around iconic castles are among the programme highlights.
Festivals are planned to celebrate the life of conservationist John Muir, the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge and the songwriting legacy of Gerry Rafferty.
A major dance convention will be held in Edinburgh, Perthshire is to host Europe’s biggest brass band festival and Inverness will stage a month-long event to coincide with the Royal National Mod being held in the city.
Other elements include the biggest ever concert at the Celtic Connections music festival, expected to be held at Glasgow’s new Hydro arena, a celebration of Scotland’s cinema-going heritage at the Glasgow Film Festival and an outdoor arts, food and drink festival in the grounds of Glamis Castle in Angus.
The second Year of Homecoming, which the Scottish Government is putting £5.5 million into and includes money for extra marketing initiatives, is being held to coincide with the staging of both the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games in Scotland next year.
The previous Homecoming, held in 2009 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, was said to have generated £53 million for the economy - although this figure was greeted with widespread scepticism by MSPs.
A target of £44 million has been set for the new campaign, which will also include a three-day celebration to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.
First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: “Scotland is preparing to welcome the world during our second Year of Homecoming in 2014.
“Next year, people from all across the globe with Scottish connections – and those without - will come to our country to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy the huge programme of events.
“Fantastic expressions of culture such as Europe’s biggest brass band festival will sit alongside the exciting commemorations of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and a variety of celebrations of Scotland’s heritage, history and food and drink in a 12-month schedule that truly does offer something for everyone in every corner of the country.
“We are already preparing to stage two of the largest sporting events on the planet during 2014 and with the packed programme of events being announced today – and many more in the pipeline – there really couldn’t be a better time to plan a trip to Scotland.”
VisitScotland’s chairman Mike Cantlay said: “With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the eyes of the world will be firmly on Scotland in 2014.
“Next year’s Homecoming will position our country as dynamic and creative with a rich history and culture.”